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Detection of Low-Level Copper-Contamination on Silicon Surfaces by Drop Nucleation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 February 2011

Thomas D. Lee
Affiliation:
Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138
Frans Spaepen
Affiliation:
Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138
Jene A. Golovchenko
Affiliation:
Department of Physics, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138
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Abstract

Nucleation and growth of liquid drops from the vapor can be used to locate efficiently surface inhomogeneities such as topological defects, oxide patches, metallic impurities, organic contamination, and particles. In this study, nucleation of water drops was used to investigate the surfaces of copper-contaminated silicon substrates. Hydrogen-terminated silicon (111) substrates were dipped into copper-contaminated ultrapure water and exposed to supersaturated water vapor. The amount of copper deposited was varied by changing the strength of the solution. Nucleation occurred at vapor pressures close to saturation. Higher densities of nucleated drops appeared on areas with greater concentrations of copper. Using this technique, it was possible to detect copper concentrations as low as 6×1011 atom/cm2. Below this concentration, treated and untreated substrates could not be distinguished. The extreme sensitivity of the technique to background nucleants shows its potential for efficient screening of surfaces for a large range of inhomogeneities.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Materials Research Society 1997

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References

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